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HomeLocal NewsBarberio and Musella Agree to Discuss Budget Cuts Further Following Second Hearing

Barberio and Musella Agree to Discuss Budget Cuts Further Following Second Hearing

Business Administrator James Cryan said "To make these cuts would be devastating."

PARSIPPANY — The Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills held a second special meeting to “Review and Discussion of the Mayor’s 2023 Budget Recommendations” on Tuesday, May 9.

The following departments were on the agenda: Sewer Department – Joe Beckmeyer; Water Department – John Wieworka; Knoll Golf Utility – Joe Jannarone; Recreation – Sam Yodice and Planning, Zoning, Construction – Jennifer Vealey.

In April, disagreements arose between Musella and Barberio over the budget process’s transparency, leading to two budget hearings. While some members of the Council expressed concern that implementing proposed cuts could lead to reduced municipal services, not all favored the proposal.

During the public comments period, most residents thanked the Council and Administration for having these hearings as they were helpful. Some residents said they had a better understanding as to how their money was being spent but still wanted there to be cuts. Mayor Barberio responded, “I wish it were a 0% increase, but to get there, we’d have to cut services which I don’t think anybody wants to do.”

Following a lengthy second budget hearing on Tuesday evening, May 9, Mayor James Barberio and Councilman Justin Musella agreed in principle regarding the necessity for additional reductions in the municipal budget.

Musella pointed out it was mentioned repeatedly throughout the course of the hearings that each department has nothing to cut and has been historically understaffed. I want to dispel this notion by highlighting the numbers within the budget.

When this administration took office, there were 437 full-time and 28 part-time employees for $58,465,715. As proposed in 2023’s budget, there is a growth to 453 full-time employees and 68 part-time for $63,743,794 to the taxpayer. That is an increase of 26 full-time and 40 part-time employees.

“On top of this, there are almost 24 non-essential and presently vacant Township positions, many of which have been vacant for two years. These vacant positions alone are budgeted for $1,363,155. For this reason, I would like to eliminate vacant positions from this budget so that we can cut the tax increase almost in half by 2%. In addition, Musella would also propose we reduce the increases of the following departments in the following: Salary Raises and Bonuses $328,731;  Parks and Recreation Services $200,000;  Legal Services  $100,000; Summer Concert Series $90,000; Administration $20,000; OEM $20,000 and Tax Collection $10,000,” said Musella.”

Parsippany-Troy Hills Council President Loretta Gragnani

I am not asking my colleagues to take a different position than they have in the past. In 2019, an article was written during a budget spat with the previous administration where my colleagues called on eliminating vacant positions, saving taxpayers almost $1,000,000. I agreed with them then and agree with those cuts now, so I am calling on my colleagues to join me in a formal motion to minimize the tax increase on residents. I formally move that the 2023 proposed budget be reduced by $2,131,886 according to the adjustments I have laid out,” said Musella.

Council President Loretta Gragnani questioned Musella, “And where will that be putting our services for our people? What about the police department? What about our Parks and Forestry? What about our public works? What about our senior citizens? Do you know Councilman Musella, these are great cuts that you wanna make, but we’ve just heard from each and every department over the past two weeks that we need workers. We’re losing workers because we’re not paying enough money. But you wanna cut the concert summer series. You wanna cut legal bills? I don’t know what’s going on with the legal department. Do we have some issues that are gonna be coming up? Negotiations.”

Councilman Frank Neglia asked CFO Leonard Ho, “How much would it benefit the homeowner instead of $8.33 a month? If you were to cut $2 million?”

CFO Ho replied, “$2 million would put you under 1%.”

Council President Gragnani replied, “What is it doing to our residents? What about our safety? What about all the other services that we are receiving? We can’t arbitrarily say let’s deduct $2 million from this budget.” 

Musella replied, “

Parsippany-Troy Hills Mayor James Barberio

Respectfully, councilwoman, I want to address your points. I made no mention of cutting any funding to the police department. I was fully supportive of the additional police offers that we have. In my view, these are mostly edits to ancillary items if negates any layoffs, and it’s eliminating vacant positions, something that people on this council previously supported doing. So if we can’t go the full way of $2 million, that’s fine. But let’s at least take steps in that direction. Let’s have the dialogue about what we cut can cut. Because for the better part of these two meetings, the tonality has been we can’t cut anything. Everything off is off the board. But let’s turn that on its head. Let’s explore how we can better allocate our resources to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Mayor James Barberio said to Musella, “How about we do this? You come into my office, and we’ll sit and talk, we’ll go, we we can go through the budget. We’ll have ’em run there. We’ll discuss it. Maybe something can be cut, but I can tell you this. In the millions would, which would devastate the town. Maybe there’s a, you know, it’s like Ronald Reagan said, better get a half over bread than none. I get all that. We can discuss it, but I will say this, and you and I agree. We have a very good, very good forecast on Rateables coming. We’re gonna have 200 million in new rateables, and you take the rate; if the rate is now 3%, that’s a 6 million increase in revenue. That’s significant.”

Councilman Paul Carifi asked, “I’m gonna ask the two money people here, Mr. Ho and Mr. Cryan. If we cut $2 million from the budget, would that devastate our town and operations?

Mr. Ho responded, “I’m completely against it because that prevents us from regenerating surplus.”

Mr. Cryan responded, “I agree. Yeah, it would be devastating. The mayor especially mentioned the affordable housing element that’s coming on. There are going to be an incredible amount of units coming on each year. To make these cuts would be devastating.

The story will be updated when the meeting between Mayor Barberio and Councilman Musella meets.

 

 

 

 

 

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Frank L. Cahill
Frank L. Cahill
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President of Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town and Chairman of Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board.
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